Antonin Artaud

Thomas Chimes, American, 1921 - 2009


Oil on panel

Framed: 17 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches (45.1 x 37.5 x 4.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of the artist, 1975

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Additional information:
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    This painting belongs to a series of forty-eight portraits that Chimes painted between 1973 and 1978 of writers, inventors, and philosophers. The portrait of Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) shows the artist, writer, and theatrical innovator as he looked in 1920, still profoundly traumatized by the horrors of World War I. Artaud's mental stability was severely impaired by military service, and Chimes's depiction of his rolling eyes and severe facial features captures his tortured sensibility. In 1926 Artaud cofounded the Alfred Jarry Theatre in Paris, where he revived the extreme tactics and shocking iconoclasm of the Ubu plays.

    Chimes's haunting series of portraits reveals his strong feelings of affinity and continuity with his beloved hero, Alfred Jarry, and others who have followed in his footsteps. Each intimate sepia-toned image, reminiscent of a nineteenth-century daguerreotype, is enshrined within a crafted, oversized wooden frame that situates the work between a family snapshot and an icon. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 129.